Curriculum & Instruction
Pre-K 3 & Pre-K 4
Our educational approach supports the development of the whole child through a balance of investigation, play, and instruction. Teachers serve as instructors and facilitators, encouraging students to interact with peers, materials, and the environment.
The Bridges' curriculum is thematic and project-based. We use science and social studies-based study topics as the curriculum framework and learning centers to integrate the curriculum areas of language arts, mathematics, science, arts and physical development throughout the curriculum and the classroom. The learning centers found in a Bridges classroom are: dramatic / imaginary play, blocks, table toys, art, music, library, writing, discovery (science and math), sensory table (i.e. - sand, water, rice, leaves) and computer.
At Bridges, study topics are not determined before the school year begins, but are instead developed by observing the children in the classroom throughout the school year. Teachers identify a topic of interest and importance to the students, and then collect materials and information on the topic. The topic is then investigated first-hand in the community and/or brought into the classroom. Generally the length of a study is a month long. Examples of possible study topics are: at the beginning of the school year a classroom might do a study on "families" or "leaves"; in the winter a study on "snow" or "clothing"; and, in the spring a study of "plants" or "grocery stores". The preschoolers enrolled in the Bridges Public Charter School would not engage in a study on "The Life of Salmon" or "The Rain Forest" because these topics are not accessible to first-hand investigation, nor are they part of a child's world in Washington, DC. Bridges Public Charter School places a strong emphasis on language and literacy development. Learning to love books, the development of language and communication skills, and the preparation for reading and writing are emphasized in each classroom. Through daily circle time activities (songs, finger plays), story time, direct instruction, individual book time, and the classroom's writing centers children will develop the skill needed to successful in kindergarten and beyond.
Bridges also has a strong commitment to supporting English Language Learners (ELL) students. Bridges supports ELL students by having staff persons who speak Spanish. When needed, and if possible, staff people who speak additional languages will also be hired.
Elementary School (Kindergarten and Above)
Inquiry Based Teaching
As a natural extension to the thematic, project-based studies of the Pre-K 3 / Pre-K level, Bridges will continue exploration and a constructivist approach in Kindergarten through fifth for Social Studies and Science. For Social Studies students will engage in inquiry-based theme studies around historical, civic, governmental or geographic focuses depending on the grade level supported by the Social Studies Alive curriculum resource. For Science students will engage in inquiry-based studies using Full Options Science Systems (FOSS) science curriculum.
Student Centered Learning
Readers and Writers Workshops - English Language Arts
Bridges uses The Readers and Writer's Workshop approach for instruction in English Language Arts. The Readers Workshop instructional method emphasizes the interaction between readers and text. Students learn to ask questions as they read making connections with their prior knowledge. Readers Workshop also focuses on discussions in peer and teacher conferences building independent reading skills that students can transfer to outside of the classroom. The components of Readers Workshop include: mini-lessons on a reading strategy or strategy for making meaning from a text; independent reading time, journaling to respond literature; teacher / student conferences and guided reading with a teacher individually or a group.
The Writers Workshop model encourage students to write by making the process of writing a meaningful part of the curriculum through various daily activities. Each writing unit intentionally introduces a practice that good writers do and give students opportunities to practice pre-writing and writing activities with that focus. For example in Second Grade, students are exposed to the organization of creating a story and developing it into a narrative that is understandable and flows. Students begin Writers Workshop in kindergarten and first grade using pictures to generate ideas for stories. In later grades, writing ideas out and learning to plan for writing by writing becomes the activity itself. Students are able to choose the topics they write about and engage in peer conferencing as part of the creative process. Writers Workshop includes story planning, revision, teacher editing and direct instruction in grammar and English writing conventions. The format of Writers Workshop is similar to Readers Workshop and includes: a Mini-Lesson to focus on an aspect of good writing; independent writing time and sharing with a peer. Student's writing goes through the process of creating a first draft, revision, illustration, final editing, and publishing.
Both Readers and Writers Workshop have celebrations to display and recognize learning that has occurred at the end of each unit.